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NY Times Baghdad Bureau Chief Talks Iraq

Tim Arango has been The New York Times’ Baghdad bureau chief since 2010. He recently took part in a Reddit AMA, and below we’ve gathered some of the highlights.

On if America’s influence on Iraq was negative:

Yes, there is no other way to see it. Everything that is occurring in Iraq today is related the American legacy there. The forerunner of ISIS was created to oppose the American occupation, and many of its leaders were in American detention facilities in Iraq. On the other side of the ledger, as it pertains to Iraqi politics, you see the American legacy. The U.S. basically chose Maliki, whose sectarian politics alienated many Sunnis, creating the fertile ground for ISIS to sweep in to these areas. And many of those Maliki policies that have pushed aside the Sunnis were started by the Americans. Excluding Sunnis from political life? that has its origins in the American De-Baathification policy. Maliki’s security policy of conducting mass arrests of Sunni men in the name of fighting terrorism? the U.S. did that too.

On the Times’ Baghdad bureau:

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Children's Picture Book Writing

Children's Picture Book WritingStarting September 15, this part lecture, part workshop course will take you through the process of outlining, writing, editing, and submitting a children's picture book. Taught by a published children's book author, Dashka Slater will teach you how to write in pictures, hook readers and editors with your story, apply the nuts and bolts of marketing, and more. Register now! 

WSJ Cuts Awards Coordinator

wall_street_journal_logo_01The Wall Street Journal has cut its awards coordinator Debbie Luczak Hoffman. Hoffman — whose role was to nominate the Journal for various honors, including the Pulitzers — had been with the paper since 1992.

As Jim Romenesko notes, Gerard Baker, the Journal’s editor, recently told Der Spiegel that winning Pulitzers wasn’t important. “I don’t judge the success of the Journal by the number of Pulitzer prizes,” said Baker. “It doesn’t say anything about the quality of our journalism.”

One wonders if Baker still feels that way.

Source: Rupert Murdoch Downsized Post Joan Rivers Coverage

According to Capital New York’s Joe Pompeo, the original mock-up for today’s New York Post front page featured Joan Rivers across the full bottom half of the page. So what happened?

NYPostFront_0905

If you believe the reporter’s source, it was none other than the boss-of-all-bosses who decided half the front was too much:

This is the story being relayed in some corners of the Post‘s Sixth Avenue offices: Yesterday happened to be one of those days when Rupert Murdoch, chairman of the Post‘s parent company, News Corp, was passing through the newsroom. (He’s been back in town since at least September 2.) And apparently, when Murdoch saw the mock-up, he wasn’t having it.

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Happy National Newspaper Carrier Day!

On September 4, 1833, the New York Sun anointed Irish-born Barney Flaherty into a then-very promising profession. The ten-year-old was the nation’s first paperboy and in his honor each year since, the fourth of September is marked by some as National Newspaper Carrier Day.

NAALogoNot too many papers today are celebrating the occasion. In fact, over at USA Today, the “Extra! Extra! Read All About It!” cries have everything to do with the twilight era of a paperboy and papergirl’s business. Nevertheless, Christian Science Monitor reporter Lisa Suhay has some fascinating info on how the profession stacks up, 181 years later:

Today, according to John Murray, vice president of Audience Development at the Newspaper Association of America (NAA), nearly 80 percent of carriers are adults, and even though subscribers are now billed directly by the newspapers, 95 percent of all carriers are still independent contractors just like the original paper boys.

The main reason the job has transitioned mostly to adults is due to the evolution of newspapers, both in overall size (including more circulars), and broader distribution. Often distribution hubs are located far from most carriers’ homes and daily deliveries include burgeoning routes with as many as seven different newspaper titles being delivered by a single carrier, which make it too difficult for a child on a bike to manage, according to Murray…

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NY Times’ Dean Baquet: ‘I Think We’ll Survive’

Dean Baquet GDean Baquet, the executive editor of The New York Times, isn’t worried about the future of the paper. In a conversation with the Times’ David Carr, Baquet explained that as long as the paper provided vital information to smart people, all will be well.

“I’m actually not that worried about the future of the New York Times,” Baquet said, according to Capital New York. “If you produce a news product that is worthwhile and worth saving, which is my goal, I think we’ll be fine. I think it will be tough, but… as long as we are essential, I think we’ll survive.”

To that end, Baquet cited the Times’ coverage of the gruesome — yet newsworthy — ISIS beheading videos. “We do have to cover these things,” he said. “I can’t get away with saying, we’re not gonna cover these wars because they’re too dangerous. But it’s really hard. And that decision is not about making a buck or being competitive, it’s about the role a news organization like the New York Times plays in society.”

We agree with Baquet that the Times will persevere. It’s the best paper in the world. But it’s not hard to imagine that one day it will be a digital-only product. That future is just farther away for the Times than most other papers.

NY Times Has 1,700 Obituaries for ‘Pre-Dead’

NYtimes buildingAnyone interested in morbid news will appreciate The New York Times pulling back the curtain on its obituaries desk.

According to Margalit Fox, the Times currently has about 1,700 obits for “pre-dead” people on file, ranging from a few hundred words (if you were boring) to more than 10 thousand (if you were rich).

Unsurprisingly, Fox writes that one of the most uncomfortable aspects of preparing obits is interviewing people who the Times deems close to death:

One of the most stressful aspects of reporting an advance entails, when feasible, telephoning its pre-dead subject for an interview. This is one of the stranger social predicaments in human experience and, trust me, there is nothing in Emily Post to cover it. The midcentury Timesman Alden Whitman, an obituary writer famous for sitting down with his subjects in advance, favored tender circumlocutions on the order of, “We’re updating your biographical file” and “This is for possible future use.” I have used both with a fair margin of success.

Another approach we’d suggest: “Hi, this is Margalit Fox with the New York Times. You’re probably about to croak. Any comment?”

Capital New York Talks to Guardian US EIC

GD*26913990Just ahead of beginning her new duties as Guardian US editor-in-chief, Katharine Viner chatted with Joe Pompeo for the September issue of Capital magazine.

The British newspaper’s stateside plans include an imminently larger New York office, the addition of a Silicon Valley bureau and some other close-to-the-vest tactics. In fact, Pompeo had to reach out to a senior colleague of Viner’s – via a lofty European vacation perch – to get a tiny bit more of the skinny:

Viner wouldn’t get into the nuts and bolts, telling me she didn’t want to publicize them in an article before having discussions with staff. She did however say that Guardian US is “in a period of ambitious growth, and we are working on a number of serious plans.”

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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Celebrates Second Place

EconomistIULogoThree years ago, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette heralded the findings a study by The Economist Intelligence Unit with the headline “Move Over, Honolulu…” At that time, the home of the Steelers, Pirates and Penguins had statistically bested the land of leis, luaus and Higgins.

The IU news is not quite as good this time around. But when the winner is Honolulu, it’s still cause for a PA-t on the back:

Pittsburgh has racked up yet another accolade, with the designation as the “most livable city” in the continental U.S., according to The Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2014 livability survey.

Only Honolulu outperformed Pittsburgh among U.S. cities in the study, which measured “which locations around the world provide the best or the worst living conditions.”

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NY Times Refuses to Endorse Cuomo

Andrew Cuomo GThe New York Times doesn’t care for either candidate in next month’s Democratic primary. The Times’ editorial board explained that it wasn’t endorsing a candidate because Andrew Cuomo hadn’t done enough to stop corruption, and his rival, Zephyr Teachout, doesn’t have the experience required.

As for Cuomo, the Times said that his first campaign promise was to “clean up Albany,” and he failed miserably:

Mr. Cuomo became governor on that platform and recorded several impressive achievements, but he failed to perform Job 1. The state government remains as subservient to big money as ever, and Mr. Cuomo resisted and even shut down opportunities to fix it. Because he broke his most important promise, we have decided not to make an endorsement for the Democratic primary on Sept. 9.

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NY Times Revamps Crossword Feature

One way the New York Times can attract new customers is by tempting people (well, at least the smarter ones) with a revamped Crossword feature. Recently the Times announced a free, mini crossword app for iOs devices. Now it is looking for people to pay up with an update to New York Times Crossword.

The new Crossword has a fresh, clean look and comes with “play anywhere” capabilities, meaning if you start a puzzle on your phone, you can complete it on your computer or iPad. Or tell your friends you finished it even though you didn’t (Hint: a three letter word for automobile is “car”). There’s also an archive of 18 years of puzzles to drive you mad.

New York Times Crossword is available for $39.99 per year or $6.99 per month. New subscribers and digital subscribers to the Times get it for about half that price.

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